Want love? Speak up.
“1, 2, 3…Silent Game! First to talk loses!”
I bet most of us are familiar with this common childhood game. We would sit around on playgrounds or in class, trying to hold back giggling, and wait to see who would give in first. Unfortunately, the affect that silence can have within our relationships is far from the innocence of this harmless game.
Communication is a way of letting others glimpse the inmost workings of our thoughts and the inner lives of our hearts. It is, in many ways, a main method of vulnerability. A way to share ourselves with others. A way to make connections and form bonds. So it makes sense that anger, fear, or hurt would make us shy away from this vulnerability and place walls up to prevent against it. The walls of silence.
The problem is: The walls of silence may keep others out, but more damagingly they keep us locked in.
In an attempt to guard our hearts, we actually end up piercing them. The silence can make us feel alone, misunderstood, or belittled—all feelings which may be rightfully founded, and yet we fail to realize that it is ourselves, not the other person, that is all too often the source of their perpetuation.
We feel alone, because we have locked the other person out. We feel misunderstood, because we have not shared our feelings. We feel as if we are going to explode, because the pressure of our inner turmoil is continuing to build up behind the walls that are attempting to subdue it.
As this new kind of silence has begun to infiltrate our relationships, it has effectively stunted their ability to grow towards genuine love.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:7
Is this not the love we seek? Then why are we still so afraid to speak? If love bears and endures all things, then being vulnerable and honest with your feelings allows the other person to show that it is truly love that you share. Love will not run because you get angry. Instead, love attempts to sort it out. Love will not leave because you express your fears or frustrations—its desire is to help calm your fears and help bear your anxieties. With all of our trials, we should seek Christ first, for His love truly never fails. But when you are in a relationship with someone, you must also learn to share these aspects with that person as well.
This sharing of life with another person will never work if it is the ‘perfected masks’ of yourselves that you are sharing, or the mask of being who you think the other person wants you to be, instead of who you truly are.
Life is hard at times, and so too is love. It takes a choice, a commitment, and it takes communication—being vulnerable. This means learning to share what you are truly feeling, even when you are afraid of the other person’s response, or when it is so much easier to stay silent.
This is never truer than with the topic of chastity within your relationship. Don’t be afraid to be the first to speak and bring up the need for you to both be on the same page about this—it is so vital to the foundation of your relationship. It is hard, but bringing up your longing for pure love not only allows you to clearly explain the love that you are looking for, to see if you are both seeking the same love, but also shows the other person that you respect yourself, and you respect them. If you care about each other, then this will be one of the most important conversations that you have. Then you can decide together the things that you need to do in order to best love one another, and choose what is best for the soul of the one you love, over the passions of a moment.
Know the love that you are looking for, the standards that you desire your future spouse to have, and what you think discernment should entail based on what marriage means. Then, don’t be silent—don’t settle. Don’t be afraid to be honest when you are mad or hurt or frustrated. Don’t be afraid to speak regarding different aspects of your discernment, such as chastity, and don’t be afraid to call each other back to a higher standard when you fall.
It is most definitely time for us to leave the “silent game” behind. Marriage is for a lifetime. We can’t let silence imprison us on our paths to that love.